Polls in 5 States to be held from Feb 10 in seven phases

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New Delhi: Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will be held between February 10 and March 7 in seven phases with counting of votes on March 10, the Election Commission announced on Saturday, and banned physical rallies and roadshows till January 15 due to Covid concerns.

The elections have huge political significance with BJP ruling four of these five States, while it is making a big push to capture Congress-ruled Punjab, where the Aam Aadmi Party is also emerging as an important player.

Announcing the election schedule with a strong focus on digital and virtual modes of campaigning, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said the ban on rallies, roadshows, nukkad sabhas, padayatras and vehicle rallies will be reviewed on January 15.

Asked about experts predicting the third wave of the Covid pandemic to peak in February, when voting for five of the seven phases of the polls will take place, he said the situation is very dynamic and nobody can predict Covid numbers of future date.

He also assured voters that all necessary steps are being taken to ensure “Covid safe” elections and said they should come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise as polling booths will be sanitised and polling officers vaccinated.

“The commission will not hesitate to bar parties from further rallies if Covid protocol is not followed,” Chandra said.

Chandra, who was flanked by election commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey, said parties and candidates have been advised to conduct their campaigns on virtual and digital modes as much as possible.

Stating that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are in existence since 2004 and more than 350 crore voters have used the machine, Chandra said that EVM is no more an issue, adding that they faclitate faster counting of votes and give accurate results.

BJP president J P Nadda expressed confidence that his party will emerge victorious in the polls. People will again bless the BJP, which will return to power with big majority and take development works to new heights, he said.

The BJP is in power in four of the five poll-bound States — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — while it is fighting in an alliance with former chief minister Amarinder Singh and an Akali faction to take on its rivals, including the ruling Congress, in Punjab.

Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said this is an opportunity for the people of five States to defeat the BJP and those forces which are anti-farmer. “Every Congress worker and leader will contest strongly these elections in five states and will defeat the BJP governments in four states and will retain the Congress government in Punjab,” he told reporters. “This is a chance to defeat the BJP as well as price rise and inflation. Farmers also have a chance to punish those who retained a union minister despite his and his son’s involvement in the mowing down of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri.”

DANGAL-2022

-690 Assembly seats and 18.30 crore voters in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa

-403 seats in UP will go to polls in seven phases from Feb 10 to March 7

-2 phase polls for 60 seats in Manipur on Feb 27 and March 3

-Goa (40 seats), Punjab (117 seats) and Uttarakhand (70 seats) polls on February 14

Door-to-door campaigns restricted to five people

Chief secretaries of the poll-bound States told to expedite the vaccination drive

Air time doubled on Doordarshan for political parties

Parties advised to conduct their campaigns on virtual and digital modes

RESULTS ON MARCH 10

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